Hayley Ni Bhriain, our Senior Program Coordinator in Dublin, and 4 of our Fall 2019 CAPA students spent last Saturday volunteering at a beach cleanup just outside the city! Read more about how they got involved and how they felt about the experience overall:
When you think of Ireland, you’re probably more likely to imagine green fields, rolling hills, and sheep – but actually, Ireland is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Lucky enough for our CAPA Dublin students, Dublin is located on the east coast of Ireland with plenty of gorgeous beaches and fishing villages just a bus ride away from the city. I have always loved the beach and will find any excuse to visit the coast, even if it’s windy and raining. One day, a Clean Coasts ad popped up on my Instagram. I remember seeing a photo of a very retro-looking can of 7up in a gloved hand – a style of can that I had not seen for about 20 years! Intrigued, I clicked on the image and browsed through Clean Coasts’ Instagram page. Their grid was full of beaches and people picking up litter, interesting facts, and tips on how we can be more considerate of the environment. Did you know that plastics make up 80% of all marine litter from surface waters to deep-sea sediments? (IUCN, 2018) – wow, neither did I!
Our Dublin students often remark on how visiting the coast in Ireland is one of their favorite things to do, so I got thinking about how we can get our students involved in an event that would combine a trip to the coast and a way for them give back to their host city. Clean Coasts organize clean-up events across Ireland every month, where groups of volunteers meet up to collect rubbish and plastic, help keep our coastlines beautiful, and protect marine life. I got in touch with Clean Coasts to find out when the next event was happening, and it just so happened that their annual Big Beach Clean was happening in September so I could arrange for our Fall students to get involved!
Photo provided by Jessa Toone
On a sunny Saturday morning, myself and four of our Fall students met the other volunteers on a beautiful beach in Dublin called Dollymount Strand. We were provided with litter pickers, gloves and bags, and spent the morning picking up lots of plastic and rubbish; mostly lollipop sticks, single use plastic straws and cutlery, and cigarette butts. Although it was a shame so see so much litter on the beach, it was a fantastic morning of volunteering.
The sun was shining and the weather could not have been better! Volunteering is such a rewarding way to give back, meet people, and get involved in the local community – not to mention it looks great on a resume! This is just one of the volunteering opportunities that you can take part in with CAPA Dublin, contact us to find out about other opportunities. Here’s what our student Big Beach Clean volunteers had to say about their experience:
Photo provided by Jessa Toone
Jessa Toone (Jessica Toone, Arizona State University):
“Volunteering at the Clean Coasts Big Beach Clean on Dollymount Strand was such exciting and simple thing to do this weekend. Getting to walk along the beach was very relaxing and the view was amazing, watching all the kite suffers was a bonus as well. Picking up all the trash was mind opening with all that was hidden in the sand and dunes along the beach, when I got back from cleaning it up it was hard not to notice all the trash on the streets and around me, it really reminds you to stop and think about the environment. It also reminds you that this is a group effort all around the world and not just in your area or country. What really shocked me though was they do clean-ups every other Sunday and the amount of trash we all collected together you wouldn’t have believed it. This beach clean was such a fun and easy thing to do. Me and my roommates just hopped on to the bus and made my way to Dollymount Strand which didn’t take long at all. After the Beach Clean we had a full day to explore some more, so we all headed over to Howth to see how gorgeous it was over there too. Volunteering is such a good way to feel connected and a part of the community, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my weekend.”
Some of the trash we collected
Tenley Reeder (Hood College):
“My volunteer experience collecting garbage on Bull Island has been one of my favorite experiences so far on my study abroad trip. This marked the first time I had been out of Dublin city since I arrived, and it felt so wonderful to get some fresh air as well as make a positive impact on the environment. It has been hard adapting to life in a city, considering I’ve lived in very rural conditions all my life, so it was very refreshing to volunteer at the beach. Also, volunteering has brought a sense of accomplishment to my stay at Dublin—it’s nice knowing that I have been able to make a positive change to my host city that has been so kind to me. I definitely recommend to anyone to consider volunteering!”
Mackenzie Reese (Auburn University):
“I had a lot of fun. It was really nice talking to Hayley during the clean-up. It felt good to be able to give back and act as more than just a tourist or abroad student; it was exciting and inspiring. [after the Beach Clean-up the students went to visit Howth, a seaside town in Dublin] On the taxi ride to Howth our driver thanked us for helping the community and it was a good feeling knowing that just an hour out of our day made a difference to the local community. It was also inspiring to see how the Ireland came together to make this event happen. It gave me more cultural awareness on how people in Ireland band together. I personally think every student spending more than a month in a country should find a way to give back. It will open your eyes and make you appreciate your overall experience in Dublin. Instead of just watching the local community you are actively helping them.”
Thank you to Clean Coasts for organizing this and other events, and many thank you to our amazing students for participating.
If you are interested in learning more about the volunteering opportunities at your CAPA center, make sure to check your CAPA Community events calendar or check in with your local student services team!
Hayley Ni Bhriain is the Senior Program Coordinator in our CAPA Dublin Center. From orientation week to the farewell dinner, Hayley works with our students every step of the way during their time in Dublin, which includes helping them get connected to awesome volunteer experiences like this one!